Strong redheads run in the Duchess of York’s family and her Great, Great Aunt Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott was another and is the main character in the Duchess’ first adult romantic historical novel, Her Heart for a Compass, set in the Victorian era.
Sarah came up with the idea for book after she was researching her ancestry for an episode of BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? which unfortunately didn’t go beyond the pre-production stages.
The book is co written by Mills & Boon author Marguerite Kaye who joined the Duchess yesterday for the Henley Festival talk. Sarah said, “It is a huge honour to be here in Henley today” and personally thanked Harriet Reed-Ryan for organising the festival.
It was obvious from the talk that Marguerite and Sarah’s relationship has grown beyond the writing of the book but started slowly. Marguerite explained, “Sarah had Lady Margaret and her character strongly in her head and the first few attempts we had of getting Lady Margaret out of Sarah’s head and on to the page, it wasn’t working but it was early days and we learned quite a lot about each other. Sarah’s a very kind person and doesn’t like to criticise. The biggest surprise about Sarah was that she can get inside my head. I don’t let many people get inside and I’m normally very careful about people knowing what I’m thinking or feeling. She’s very intuitive. ”
Sarah told the audience she “had great empathy for her (Lady Margaret) and the criticism that is thrown at her. My experience of looking into Lady Margaret has been very therapeutic.”
Asked whether who would be Sarah’s romantic hero, she replied no question, Carey Grant. Commenting “he is fabulous and has great swagger.” She also then said Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney.
The audience were not allowed to ask live questions and had to submit these to the organisers before the event. It is understood that this was at the request of the publishers.
Emma Laird Craig who is playing the Duchess of the York in the new series of The Crown asked an online question. What advice would Sarah could give her. She replied, “Oh goodness me just do your best job she can. Poor lady. Good luck Emma.”
Asked what advice Sarah would give her two daughters was, “When you go out of your front door if you don’t smile, don’t go out of your front door as nobody wants to see a bad tempered Princess.”
Talking about being a Princess Sarah commented, “Always remember where who you are and where you come from. A true Princess is not about the title it’s about the heart.”
Sarah lovingly spoke about her grandchildren August and Sienna. She hoped that Sienna would grow up to a “strong redhead” too and she said, “August finds me hysterically funny.”
The duo are co-writing a follow up to the book which will be out next year in August 2022.
There’s still a weekend of events taking place with Vince Cable, Michael Heseltine, Ruth Jones, Michael Morpurgo to name a few. To find out more go to https://henleyliteraryfestival.co.uk/whats-on/